The cashew tree, which grows in tropical climates, has a complex root system, and is capable of thriving even in dry, nutrient-poor soils. The tree produces fruits known as "cashew apples", which are juicy and slightly acidic. The juice of these apples is rich in vitamin C, and is popular within the growing regions of the cashew tree. However, as it has a very short shelf-life, its existence is not well-known outside of these regions.
The cashew kernels grow on the bottom of the cashew apples, inside a hard shell. The nuts typically have a mild, slightly sweet and nutty flavour, and a crunchy yet soft texture.
The word "cashew" is derived from "acaju", which means "kidney tree" in the language of the Tupi, a group of peoples indigenous to Brazil. The name is most likely in reference to the shape of the shell in which cashew kernels grow, which is similar to that of a kidney.